Safari in Tanzania


Link Posted 09/09/2010 - 16:27
'Lo All

Just back from a fantastic safari in Tanzania taking in the Ngorongoro crater, Lake Manyara and the Serengeti. Hopefully I'll post some photos soon to get some feedback from you good people but, understandably, there are a couple of thousand to sort through and it might take me a while...

Anyway, in the meantime I thought I'd share some of my experiences in case anyone else is planning a similar trip.

I took along the following:

- GX20
- Sigma 100-300 f4
- Sigma 1.4 tele
- Sigma 17-70
- Pentax-A 100 f2.8
- Polarising filter
- Graduated filter kit
- Lots of small memory cards (in case of card failure or theft - 30gb)
- Monopod
- Little extras (wired remote, ir remote, cleaning kit, couple of spare batteries)
- All packed in a Tamrac Aero speedpack 75

If I was packing again I would leave the monopod. I barely used it - instead just resting the camera/lens on the jeep roof. Similarly a tripod would have been useless (apart from landscape shots from the lodges). I saw one guy using a tripod in a jeep full of people and he didn't seem popular...

The bag was fantastic. It fitted all the kit in and had room for water, jumper, book, snacks etc in the top pocket. It was comfortable to wear, hardwearing and had dust sealed zips. I'd definitely recommend it or something similar.

In hindsight, an external flash would have been useful at times as would a wide angle lens (but as I don't own either there wasn't really an option). Similarly a second backup body would have been nice but I don't own one.

The 100-300mm lens was brilliant - thanks for the recommendations on here. At times I wanted something longer (even with the teleconverter) but for most shots it was fine. In some cases it was too long even at the 100mm end! I haven't been able to look at the photos in detail but from some pixel peeping on the camera (sorry ) it looks to have produced some very sharp shots. I think the Sigma 50-500 would be a more versatile option but would have been bulkier. If I had both and I went again I would struggle to decide which one to take.

Best investment
A rocket blower and cheap makeup brush! Even being careful about lens changes, dust is inevitable. Without the blower and brush I'm sure that there would have been a lot more dust on the lenses and getting onto the sensor. My evening ritual was to brush down the camera and each lens, rocket blow the lens elements and then give the lens a wipe with a lens cloth (if it needed it). Only got one bit of dust on the sensor and a quick blow shifted that.

Worst investment
Cokin adapter and Hitech graduated filters. Although they're fine pieces of kit they weren't particularly useful without a tripod. Looking forward to trying them out on some landscape shots at home though.

Hope people find that helpful.

You will only prise my 43Ltd from my cold, dead hands...


Link Posted 09/09/2010 - 16:39
Welcome back. Three of my all time favourite places .
Look forward to your photos.
Did you stay in tented camps or lodges? Who did you go with? Just curious - I hope to go back there one day and am grateful for feedback .

I had only my Ds and Tamron 28-300 with me when I went, but that is nearly 5 years ago now.


Link Posted 09/09/2010 - 16:41
Interesting observations WG, look forward to the pics.

K5 + 8mm-500mm zooms and primes
Please feel free to play with any images I post.
My flickr: link


Link Posted 09/09/2010 - 16:45
We were in lodges rather than camps. I would have liked to camp but as it was a honeymoon I didn't have the casting vote...

We went with Somak as people had recommended them as being very good. Although the package was good I wasn't impressed with them as a company - we had some flight problems and some delays caused by Somak. They weren't very good at sorting things out. We will definitely go back (although maybe we'll try Kenya for a change) but I think we will try our luck with a different company.

I definitely enjoyed the Serengeti the most. Hopefully a couple of the lion hunting pictures and the cheetah pictures have turned out as well as I was hoping...
You will only prise my 43Ltd from my cold, dead hands...


Link Posted 09/09/2010 - 17:17
Thanks for the detailed description of your kit etc. Looking forward to seeing some of your shots.


“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”
Edmund Burke (1729 – 1797)


Link Posted 09/09/2010 - 17:32
Thanks for that Wobbly. Interesting comments. I will still have a look at Somak.

I too loved the Serengeti. I liked Ngorongoro but I probably wouldn't go again. We were in luxury tented camps which were great. We went in February so were there for the wildebeest migration and calves. We saw one being born which was magical. Plus the weather was a lot better than here in February!
We went with Africa Travel Resource.

I really hope we can go back, but it is always an expensive choice, especially the flights.

Meanwhile I shall content myself with your photos


Link Posted 09/09/2010 - 19:10
Welcome back Wobbly seems you had a great time over there.
I hope to see some photos soon

K10D, K5
DA* 16-50, DA* 50-135, D-FA 100 Macro, DA 40 Ltd, DA 18-55


Link Posted 09/09/2010 - 19:39
I understand what you mean about the kit. I found I wanted and used everything from the 10-16mm fisheye to the Bigma.
I did find a second body a great help. Animals have a habit of being cute and interesting when you're changing cards or lenses.
I was also wary of the amount of dust. Not good for cameras!
My Photobucket


Link Posted 09/09/2010 - 20:11
The reason I got the Bigma was I was promised another safari.

If there is a next time my kit will be whatever body I have then, the Bigma and the 17-70 (maybe), plus a beanbag.

I was there between the short and long rains so dust wasn't too much of a problem, though there was a drought on and the short rains had been very short. I only took one lens too so I didn't have to keep changing. The Bigma is too wide at the short end though so the 17-70 would have to go too.


Link Posted 09/09/2010 - 21:34
I've mentioned it before but I strongly recommend The Pod from Jessops. Excellent with the Bigma as it's always in place and hard to lose.

My Photobucket


Link Posted 09/09/2010 - 23:21
I'd recommend Botswana too - we went with Wilderness Safaris, who were excellent.

Some occasional random stuff at The Photographers Block: link


Link Posted 09/09/2010 - 23:41
Those areas are great for spotting game up close and my favourite of those was Lake Manyara, noted for its invisible tree climbing lions. The places I really enjoyed though were the empty (of people)gameparks of Southern Tanzania and Zambia, more difficult to spot the wildlife and we had to rough it but the vastness is incredible and shooing hyenas and hippos from your campbed is fun. The remoter areas of Botswana and Namibia were also fantastic.
You can see some of my photos here if you are so inclined


Link Posted 10/09/2010 - 02:05
Hah! We saw lots of the "invisible tree climbing lions". I'm convinced that's a myth...

Anyway, thanks for all the comments. I'll try and get some photos up soon. Still very much in the amateur stages and I'd appreciate more advice. My South American pics focussed too much on filling the frame with the subject. Hopefully I've got some more interesting compositions this time.

I did consider the beanbag - I think you may have suggested it to me Greynolds. I went into Jessops and they didn't have any in stock though(a bit of a last minute effort). I really think that balancing on the fleece was sufficient but having not tried the bean bag I can't really comment. We were a bit lucky in the jeep not being full though so I had plenty of room to move around and re-position.

I'm feeling pretty inspired. If it wasn't 2:00 in the morning I'd try getting some pictures online now. Need sleep thoughhhhhh zzzzzzzzzzz.
You will only prise my 43Ltd from my cold, dead hands...


Link Posted 10/09/2010 - 10:13
We didn't see those lions either . Lots of hill climbing elephants but no lions.

Thanks for the link Greynolds. I shall certainly look to see if I can find them here too.

Selous and Ruaha are high on my list. In fact they are my preferred destination next time, though Zambia is also tempting.
I'd love to see wild dogs. There are some in Serengeti now, but there is more chance of seeing them in the south I believe.

Time to start working on my other half again.

Joe S

Link Posted 10/09/2010 - 15:15
Congratulate yourself on having seen the Serengeti before the Tanzanians construct a highway through it. Construction is planned to start 2012.

I visited the same 3 destinations some years ago. My longest lasting impressions is of arriving in the crater early, misty morning, feeling worried that the weather would last all day - just to find the clouds spectacularly break at just the right moment. Within minutes we then saw a cheetah losing its prey to jackals.
Hi. My name is Joel and I'm a travelholic.
Stolen kit: Pentax K7 #3428965 and Pentax FA 43mm #0028350
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